Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Harry Potter Thoughts.
The final installment of the Harry Potter series came out, as most of you well know, earlier this summer. (And if you weren't aware of that, were you residing under a rock?)

It brought a lot of media and public attention to the books once again, sparking up old debates and new thoughts, and I collected ideas here and there that have been rumbling around in my brain for some while. I thought I'd share a few of these thoughts here, and links to the originators, if possible.

The following comments were in a blog entry that discusses several things about the series...this one touched on the validity of moral ideas in the Harry Potter series:

Teaching your kid to do the right thing in the face of opposition is one thing, but giving him/her the opportunity of tasting what that feels like, before actually having to do it in real life, serves as an enticement to the nobler sensibilities. Besides, every generation of children since the beginning of the 20th century has been inundated with emotionally-manipulative media. Teaching children that emotions themselves are wrong is not an option--we must encourage a hunger for the nobler feelings, and the rejection of crass emotional manipulation will naturally follow.
This was an idea that I've had for some years (although not nearly as succinctly said) and discussed with other Elementary Ed. students; it cropped back up when Shaun was studying literature and ethics and how they collide. It's one of the reasons why I think reading is such a huge part of molding childhood; it allows you to experience things you may never be able to encounter in real life... or prepares you for when you do.

This next comment was in the same comment section, and in response to a critique on the HP books and the idea that they are called 'classics' already. The critic could not fathom putting J.K. Rowling next to Dickens or Austen or the like... I thought the responding comment was pretty interesting; I hope that it carries the same impact here as when I first read it (and if you really feel like it, you can read through the whole comment thread here):

one of the reasons it's difficult if not illegitimate to compare HP to Dickens or Austen and the like is that HP is written for children. Are your conversations about current events, morality, the faith, etc., that you have with your spouse and peers carried out in the same manner as those you have with your children? Of course not. The writing in HP can't be as sophisticated as that of Dickens or Dostoevsky because they are written for different audiences. It is actually a mark of Rowling's genius (yes, genius) that so many adults (those who share her Christian worldview and those who don't) are so greatly moved by her writing that is aimed at a pre-teen audience. In fact, a compelling and likely convincing case can be made to any fair judge that HP may be the greatest work of children's literature ever written. And yes, I'm aware that the charge of chronological snobbery is now in many minds. But tell me: what else is in the running? MacDonald? Carroll? Lewis? As dangerous a statement as this may be, Rowling is clearly a superior storyteller to Lewis (and I've read the Narnia books 20+ times). And it's hard to even say whether MacDonald and Carroll could even be children's books these days.

And finally, the whole reason why I even got sucked into reading the blog, was the original entry itself:


If you've never read this interview with J.K. Rowling, I would recommend it. People still spread ridiculous rubbish about Rowling encouraging little girls to practice witchcraft. Conservative Christians can be so gullible and boorish.

But note especially the hint she gives of some resolution to the controversy about Harry Potter's story and the Christian faith in book seven:

E: You do believe in God.

JK: Yeah. Yeah.

E: In magic and…

JK: Magic in the sense in which it happens in my books, no, I don't believe. I don't believe in that. No. No. This is so frustrating. Again, there is so much I would like to say, and come back when I've written book seven. But then maybe you won't need to even say it 'cause you'll have found it out anyway. You'll have read it.
And don't forget this gem from her published interview with the Vancouver Sun (October 26, 2000):
Are you a Christian?

“Yes, I am. Every time I've been asked if I believe in God, I've said yes, because I do, but no one ever really has gone any more deeply into it than that, and I have to say that does suit me, because if I talk too freely about that, I think the intelligent reader, whether 10 or 60, will be able to guess what's coming in the books.”
Draco dormiens numquam titillandus!


When all is said and done, my personal beliefs on the Harry Potter books, children's lit, and how those interconnect with my Christian beliefs, are probably way too lengthy and mostly boring to the large percentage of my blog reading audience. However, I truly believe that the issues that most people take with the books come from not knowing their topic through and through. I once was pretty suspicious of these books myself, but picked them up on the recommendation of one of my most conservative Bible College professors... my mind was quickly changed by J.K. Rowling's fabulous story telling abilities, creative intricacies, and thoroughness... oh, and the overwhelming theme of redemption.

I think they are a great tool for reaching those who may have never heard the Original Redemption story ... along with being thought provoking entertainment.

/End Obsessive Harry Potter philosophizing ;)
Anonymous Anonymous said...
What I think is hilarious is how there seems to be some pervasive thought that reading the books to judge for oneself is somehow akin (in the minds of the ignorant) to doning a clock and having high satanic mass on all hollow's eve. What is the real fear there? That not following an exacting formula (set by whom I have no idea) will tarnish one's salvation before God? Is there some secret code God has for those 'really' indulging in sin? I mean, we all know that homosexuality, abortion etc... are 'far worse' than not telling the cashier at Wal-mart that she gave you an extra $20 back in your change. Right? Don't we all 'know' that?

ok, I hope you hear the steady drip of sarcasm on that one.
So, in the same way, this lack of consistancy in the pursuit of a perfectionistic and, YES, legalistic mindset does tend to sicken me. I have to attempt to reign myself in and remember that it is the sad loss of those who push away these books that will somehow cast a witchy curse on all they know.
If for taste a book is pushed aside... hooray for you. If a certain and blasphemus spirit is the subject of a book, then I will steer clear. But a fantasy book that has Christocentric references? Well, I am happy to display them on my shelves and recommend them to anyone who asks.
After all, they call it 'fantacy' for a reason... it ain't real! Get over your collective selves... there are so many more pressing things in this world to address.

~Old Hinkley (a ghost in the halls of Hogwarts)

Anonymous Anonymous said...
p.s. I meant doning a cloAk... not a clock... unless you are Flava Flav. :)

And one more thought...


but ... alas ... ear wax.

~Ollllllllllld HINkley!

Blogger michelle said...
That is really interesting. I did not know she was a christian. Well, I guess I pretty much know how it ends then. hee hee. My fault for not keeping up.

Blogger Katie said...
Yes, some people kind of overdo it when they say JK is leading kids down a path of satanism.

One thing I thought of (that is semi related) when I was reading book 7: When it seems the worst is at hand for the wizarding world (kind of in the middle - everyone is in hiding, Vold. is close to getting all the horcruxes) you could feel the anguish in Harry that it was all up to him and that it didn't look good. At that moment I just thought, "I am so thankful that we have Jesus in our world to defeat the enemy". Harry didn't have our Lord to rely on. How awful must that feel to have no hope or help

Blogger Kim said...
WHY I have not read Harry Potter? I do not know why I haven't caught the fever. Eventually...

Blogger Abbey said...
I really must read them some day. I just haven't ever picked one up. I did see the first movie, though, an dit was good. Maybe when Kim catches the fever, I'll get it from her. Somebody please give m e the fever!! I feel out of the loop....

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